How to design the perfect hotel room - Interior Design Tips
July 31, 2019
Different travelers desire different hotel rooms. Some crave unique and boutique, with unusual design features – something Instagram-able and cool, others want total luxury – marble baths and butler service and every whim attended to. Then there are those who opt for budget – but budget needn’t be boring, think Citizen M over Travelodge. What every hotel should have in common is functionality. I’m talking lighting systems that don’t require a computing degree to operate, hooks in the right places, good quality coffee and tea with fresh milk in the room, and a large, clean, comfortable bed.
I’ve stayed in many hotel rooms over the years and interior designed a few. These are the things I think the perfect hotel room needs:
Lighting – As an interior designer, I know how important lighting is. It sets the mood – for most hotel rooms that should be calm and inviting. But, if you can’t find the switch, any calmness is immediately destroyed. And please don’t give me an iPad to work the lights. A multi-way switch at the bedside that turns everything off in one go is crucial. Also, use lighting effectively. Don’t put a tea-station in a dark corner on a low table. Put it somewhere well-lit, where the kettle or coffee machine can be switched on without the guest having to rearrange furniture.
Bathrooms – Enough hooks for towels and robes, please; so simple, so rare. Likewise, I’d like a dry space for a washbag. And, if it is a fancy hotel, I’d prefer taps and plugs that don’t need a manual to operate. Beautiful design is wonderful but should never override functionality. Sweet-smelling toiletries are always a pleasure – and in a five-star hotel they are expected, but in a budget hotel, something simple and pleasant is fine, though these days creative sourcing can find good things for little expense. Customers recognise when an effort has been made with the details.
Sockets – It’s amazing how poorly thought-out the position of sockets often is in hotel rooms. Most women want to be able to sit down in front of a well-lit mirror to use a hairdryer and put on makeup. And these days we all need at least a USB port beside the bed, if not an actual socket to charge phones overnight; free WiFi is essential, too.
Luggage – Unless I’m travelling solo, I’d prefer two luggage racks – and I definitely want one. If you’re staying just a night, so not fully unpacking, it’s easier and neater to open your case on a rack, than scrabble about at floor level.
Sleep – The primary purpose of your hotel room should be to aid sleep. A wonderful king-sized bed, with a good mattress (I like Hypnos and Glencraft), goose-down pillow, 1000-count cotton bed linen, blackout blinds or curtains, and no noise. I always ask for a quiet room, which includes no noisy heating or air con.
Décor & furnishings – An Independent Hotel Show Perfect Bedroom Report quizzed 2000 18 to 76-year-old frequent hotel guests about their preferences in hotel room decor. Floral art was a no-no. I’d agree with that – avoid chintz and go for timeless elegance when interior designing for hotels. I recently looked back at room designs in hotels, apartments and houses from earlier in my career, and was pleased to see that the styles still look fresh. Neutral tones balanced with some interest in design and fabric – a piece of furniture or a lamp – and careful use of colour is best. No-one likes boring, but few places get away with wild design. As for furnishings, chests of drawers were deemed unnecessary in the survey, but roomy wardrobes and plentiful mirrors were important, as was a chair or two.
Website – It’s disappointing to arrive somewhere expecting it to be lovely, but it’s not. This happens when the hotel is misrepresented online. If the one room shown is a vast well-lit presidential suite and I end up with a dark, pokey back room, I feel hard done by.
Service – Good service requires training and bad service can spoil a stay even in the loveliest room. In this age of Airbnb, hotels must compete on great service. At The Lanesborough, London’s most expensive hotel, you get a private butler, which is wonderful if you can afford it. Most of us are simply happy to be treated respectfully, and for requests to be dealt with promptly. The best hotels don’t treat guests with kid gloves, but with gentle informality and intelligent responses.
Favorites – I particularly admire The Rosewood in London for its inner and outer grand classical elegance. My favorite examples of great interior design in London hotels are all about classic style. But they also feature modern hotel interiors and inspiring interior decoration ideas. I love the beautiful homely Georgian interior of the Belmond Cadogan on Sloane Street, The Dorchester for its old-school style and great cocktails, and the Ritz for a gilt-edged ultimate five-star afternoon tea.